Skip to main content

Historical documents

92 Legation in Washington to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 1704 WASHINGTON, 22 December 1942, 1.56 p.m.


Following are general observations by Hasluck on I.P.R.

Conference. [1]

(1) Consensus of opinion reached on the following principles-
(a) Third party judgment on post-war colonial rule in South East
Asia, exercised through an International Pacific Council, the main
purposes being to hasten progress towards self government and
social and economic development of colonial regions.

(b) Fuller participation by China both in the conduct of the war
and post-war planning.

(c) Settlement in India would be assisted by the setting up of an
Allied Advisory Committee of experts to work alongside a proposed
Exploratory Commission composed solely of Indians. American
proposals for formal third party mediation were not supported.

(d) A world system for guaranteed security operating in the
Pacific through an International Pacific Council having at its
disposal an international police force.

(e) Higher standards of living in all countries of the Pacific.

This social objective had an exceptionally strong appeal to
delegates but was not worked out in concrete terms.

(2) This consensus of opinion however hides some doubtful basic
assumptions, e.g. that all dependent peoples of South East Asia
are capable of self government at an early date, that Japan is the
only possible Pacific aggressor now and for all time, that the
Chungking Government can re-establish stable and undisputed rule
over all China and Manchuria, and that balanced economic
development of the region can be taken for granted. The conference
also slid away from several awkward questions of detail such as
international use of strategic bases, control of the Pacific
Island bases vital to civil aviation, and the form of post-war
investment in colonial areas (although in discussion the American
delegates appeared to favour free private enterprise as against
public development or anything resembling the Feis plan [2], while
some Chinese asserted confidence in the ability to develop China
from their own resources). Throughout the conference limited
attention paid to Russia as a Pacific power. Virtual crippling of
Japan, including the removal of industries to China, was advocated
by some delegates but countered by those who urged the importance
of eventual Japanese co-operation in a stable Pacific.

(3) British colonial rule was severely criticised along the lines
of earlier messages regarding Wendell Willkie's views. [3]
Churchill's silence on post-war matters was held to justify doubts
whether the United Kingdom had ever accepted or intended to accept
the full implications of the Atlantic Charter. The United Kingdom
delegation, by taking defensive stand from the start and speaking
with a united voice despite the known differences in individual
viewpoints, encouraged the critics in their opinion that Britain
was manoeuvring for a return to the pre-war order. These
criticisms were freely expressed in the final plenary sessions.

The United Kingdom delegates then adopted the role of being
misunderstood and at the close of the conference had not
dissipated doubts regarding British intentions.

(4) United States delegates were individually more forthcoming and
spoke idealistically regarding general post-war objectives but
were disinclined at first to answer questions concerning the
extent of American participation in post-war measures, falling
back on the argument that American public opinion must prevail but
was unpredictable. The opinion was expressed privately by
officials that the administration had moved far ahead of the
public on post-war collaboration and there was some doubt whether
popular opinion would catch up. The Australian delegation gained
general support in its insistence on the importance of full United
States collaboration for both security and balanced post-war
economic development of the Pacific region, and my personal
impression was that the direct challenge made on this point was by
no means unwelcome to the Department of State officials present at
the Conference. The trend of discussion indicated, however, that
some of the assumptions made in Canberra regarding post-war trade
reorganisation are not wholly justified and considerable political
difficulties have still to be overcome before economic planning
can proceed with anything like certainty.

(5) Throughout the conference the Chinese were reserved, basking
in the warm sympathy from non-official Americans. They clearly
disclosed, however, that their ambition is to receive back
unconditionally the whole of China, including Manchuria, Formosa
and probably Hong Kong. In one round table conference when
international use of strategic bases was being discussed, the
Chinese delegates said that so far as China was concerned, the
question would be decided after they regained their territory. The
subject of Indo China was generally avoided.

(6) After comparing impressions with Canadian and Netherlands
delegates, with whom we established particularly close contact, my
personal opinion is that 'the small nations' of the Pacific,
including Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the Netherlands (and
possibly Latin America) have a clear mutual interest and
opportunity for co-operation in-
(a) encouraging a realistic and forward-looking United Kingdom
policy in the Pacific,
(b) working towards full United States collaboration for security
and economic expansion in this region, and
(c) at the same time ensuring a United Nations peace and not
Anglol American or American domination.

1 The Institute of Pacific Relations held a conference at Mont
Tremblant, in Quebec, Canada, between 4 and 14 December. The
Australian delegation consisted of R. J. F. Boyer (a member of the
Australian Broadcasting Commission), Paul Hasluck (Officer-in-
Charge, Post-War Section, External Affairs Dept), Lloyd Ross
(Secretary of the N.S.W. Branch of the Australian Railways Union)
and Eleanor Hinder (a graduate of Sydney University who had until
recently been chief of the industrial section of the Shanghai
Municipal Council and was about to join the International Labour
Organisation in Montreal). The Institute, departing from its
normal practice, allowed persons in government service to join the
delegations and, as Hasluck later recalled: 'It became apparent
that governments themselves saw the conference as a very useful
sounding board and as an opportunity for exploring further some of
the problems of the post-war settlement. Consequently the
membership of the Mont Tremblant conference included persons who
were able to make a highly useful contribution to discussion
because of their closeness to official thinking and, perhaps even
more importantly, who were part of a small corps of officials who
would continue to work in post-war planning in future years.' See
Paul Hasluck, Diplomatic Witness, Melbourne University Press,
Melbourne, 1980, p. 68.

2 Herbert Feis (Economic adviser to the U.S. State Department).

See the article cited in Document 26, note 2.

3 See Document 56, note 1.

[AA:A989, 43/650/1, ii]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
Back to top